Writing for Marketing Translation
The First Step
Step #1 in getting the best translation for your marketing materials is to make sure that the original copy is the best it can be. The writing must be concise, clear, written in proper English and finalized before it goes to your professional language services company.
- Use Precise Language: The best translations result from copy that is written in the most clear and concise way. Write in proper English and avoid ambiguity in the wording and meaning of your message. Messages that have double meanings may work well in US English, but they generally don't translate well or resonate with other cultures. It's best to keep the message, and the copy, on point and precise.
- Don't Use Humor, Slang, Idioms and Double Meanings: What one group finds humorous or pithy often falls flat with other cultures. It's best to keep humor, puns, idioms and slang out of your slogans and advertising. Even when marketing in a single country, slangs and humor often won't translate to different areas. Think about the slang use for the word "wicked". Where we are located, in New England, "wicked" is a term used to mean "very" or "awesome". But in other parts of the U.S. "wicked" just means "bad" or "evil".
- Leave Room: Translation is not a one-for-one swap of words. Often a translation will end up being 20-30% longer than the original copy. If you need that copy to fit on a product package, or a brochure, you need to account for this expansion when you write the English version to avoid layout issues.
- Be Consistent: Using copy that is repeated on all your marketing materials will not only provide a consistent message, but it will help save costs when translating to other languages. Copy that is repeated can be translated once, then reused to save time and money in the translation process.
- Finalize First: Make sure the copy that is submitted to your translation provider is the final copy. Making edits once the translator is working on the material can result in delays or errors, and it complicates the project management by making the versions more difficult to track. Avoid this by always waiting till the copy is finalized before sending it for translation.